Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Steelers lead the NFL in Campbell's Soup contest

The Steelers may be struggling on the field, but the team leads the NFL (with a narrow lead over the Cincinnati Bengals), in the Campbell's Chunky Soup "Click For Cans" contest. As of today, the Steelers have already amassed more than 247,000 votes. For what it's worth, the Arizona Cardinals are dead last with a paltry 1,300 votes.

Click here to cast your vote for the Steelers.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trio of knee injuries

As a result of knee injuries suffered during Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders, OLB Arnold Harrison and RB Verron Haynes are likely lost for the season. Head coach Bill Cowher said Harrison and Haynes "probably" won't return this year, while starting C Jeff Hartings could also be out for an extended period of time.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Raiders 20, Steelers 13

Today, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Steelers 20-13 on the strength of four Ben Roethlisberger interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Earlier this week I predicted that it would be a mistake to start Roethlisberger, and indeed it turned out to be a big mistake. The Steelers have a track record of allowing Big Ben to return from injuries/surgeries too soon, and he has played exceptionally poorly in such situations.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rooney fined $25,000 by NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney was fined $25,000 by the NFL on Friday for critical comments about the officiating in the Steelers' 41-38 overtime loss at Atlanta last Sunday. Rooney had said, among other things, that the officials working the game should be "ashamed of themselves."

I'm surprised that Rooney made public comments in regards to the officiating. Was he upset about the lack of a roughing-the-passer call on the play in which Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion? The penalty for excessive celebration against WR Nate Washington? The illegal motion penalty called on Washington during the last play of regulation? The first two situations were borderline; the illegal motion penalty was clearly the right call.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Steelers v. Raiders (what are the chances?)

Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Steelers this Sunday, The Steelyard estimates that Pittsburgh has an eighty percent chance of defeating the Oakland Raiders. No NFL team has been more prone to self-destruction than the Raiders, and unless Art Shell & company suddenly get their act together Oakland figures to fall to 1-6. In particular, the Raiders' offensive line is likely to struggle, both in terms of running the ball and protecting the quarterback.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Roethlisberger admits experiencing headaches

On Wednesday QB Ben Roethlisberger admitted he is still experiencing headaches as a result of the concussion he suffered during the third quarter of this past Sunday's game versus the Atlanta Falcons. If that's the case it would seem prudent to rule Big Ben "out" for this week's matchup against the Oakland Raiders, and keep him out of action until all symptoms have subsided.... And then keep him out some more. There's no sense in subjecting him to the risk of further head injury, especially when one considers how effectively Charlie Batch has played this season. Never mind the fact that the Steelers are 2-4 and barely alive in the playoff race.

The Steelers have shown a propensity for allowing Big Ben to return to the field too soon after injuries/surgeries; it's about time the team started playing it safe with Roethlisberger, no matter how much he "begs and pleads."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Roethlisberger listed as questionable for Sunday

The Steelers have listed QB Ben Roethlisberger as "questionable" (i.e., 50/50) for Sunday's game at Oakland. LB James Harrison (ankle) and S Mike Logan are already "out" and WR/KR Willie Reid (foot) is doubtful. Along with Roethlisberger, LB Joey Porter (hamstring), NT Casey Hampton (hamstring), WR Cedric Wilson (groin) and LB Clark Haggans (ankle) are questionable.

Even if Roethlisberger is medically cleared to play on Sunday, I would take the following approach (an approach I suggested prior to the game at Jacksonville): Let Charlie Batch start and bring Roethlisberger on in relief only if Batch falters. This way, if Batch plays well, Big Ben gets an additional week to recover. And if Batch struggles, bringing Ben off the bench might very well spark the team's offense.

Monday, October 23, 2006

ESPN reports Big Ben suffered a concussion

Today, ESPN is reporting that Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion on the hit that knocked him out of yesterday's game. No surprise there. The question is: What do the Steelers do now? I would hope Bill Cowher and the team's physicians are conservative in terms of letting Roethlisberger return to the field. Big Ben's long-term health is much more important than any upcoming game. Plus, the team already has a history of allowing him to come back too soon following an injury, and the results have been less-than-inspiring.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Falcons 41, Steelers 38 (OT)

Done in by fumbles, special teams breakdowns and penalties the Steelers lost to the Falcons this afternoon by a margin of 41-38. Of greater concern to Steelers fans is the health of QB Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a head injury in the third quarter and missed the remainder of the game.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Steelers v. Falcons (what are the chances?)

The Steelyard estimates that the Steelers have a 55 percent chance of defeating the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. If Ben Roethlisberger really is "back" (i.e., reasonably healthy) Pittsburgh should be able to post a win in the echo chamber that is the Georgia Dome. If not, the Steelers will struggle to eke out a win. The game features strength versus strength in that the Falcons possess the strongest rushing attack in the NFL, while the Steelers do an excellent job of defending the run.

Pittsburgh is 10-1-1 all time versus the Falcons, with the only loss coming at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium in 1970.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Georgia Dome threat

An Internet message claiming that seven NFL stadiums will be hit with dirty bombs this weekend has been met with "strong skepticism" by government security officials. Dated October 12, the message appeared on a Web site called "The Friend Society"; the posting claimed that trucks would deliver radiological bombs to stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland.

Since Pittsburgh is playing at Atlanta's Georgia Dome this weekend the Steelers are one of 14 teams that will be affected, is some sense, by this threat. Of course, terrorists aren't normally in the business of announcing their intentions in advance. Another thing that makes such an attack unlikely is the fact that the NFL schedule was released in April. Six months isn't much time for any terror organization to plan and execute coordinated attacks such as these. Never mind the fact that the Georgia Dome has a closed roof, a detail that the threatmaster does not seem to recognize.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Steelers 45, Chiefs 7

The Steelers completely throttled the Chiefs this afteroon at Heinz Field, winning by a margin of 45-7. Most importantly, QB Ben Roethlisberger returned to form, completing 16 of 19 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions. It would have been rookie WR Santonio Holmes' coming out party, except for his two fumbles. Perhaps he should have waited until after the game before getting too pleased with himself. Finally, it's possible that FS Troy Polamalu would have run back his interception for a touchdown if Chiefs RB Larry Johnson hadn't tackled him by the hair.

Next week: At Atlanta.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Chiefs v. Steelers (what are the chances?)

The Steelyard estimates the Steelers' chances of winning Sunday's game at 60 percent. Pittsburgh's injury problems have certainly become significant in recent weeks, but the Chiefs have plenty of injury issues of their own.

At the moment, the Steelers' injury report lists LB James Harrison (ankle), LB Joey Porter (hamstring), and WR Willie Reid (foot) as out; OG Kendall Simmons (foot) as doubtful; CB Deshea Townsend (hamstring) as questionable; and DE Brett Keisel (ribs) and FB Dan Kreider as probable. QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Hines Ward are not listed on the injury report, but it's self-evident that neither Ben nor Hines are anywhere near 100 percent. Apparently, Simmons suffered a frostbite-like burn after applying a cold pack to his foot while watching Monday Night Football.

The last time the Chiefs played in Pittsburgh was on October 29, 1989, with the Steelers winning 23-17. Sunday's game will also feature the return of former Steelers LB Kendrell Bell, who defected to Kansas City via free agency in 2004.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chargers 23, Steelers 13

Tonight the San Diego Chargers defeated Pittsburgh 23-13. The Steelers (1-3) have lost three straight games. "I can't tell you the last time I lost three games in a row," said QB Ben Roethlisberger, who threw two more interceptions, giving him seven this season. "I feel like I have let my teammates down and let the fans down. I know I can play better and I know I will."

Next week: vs. Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Colclough out for the season

Today the Steelers placed CB Ricardo Colclough (neck) on the reserve/injured list. Rookie free-agent CB Anthony Madison (Alabama) has taken Colclough's place on the active roster. In all likelihood, the Steelers would have re-signed Chidi Iwuoma had he still been available; the New England Patriots signed Iwuoma on October 4.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Steelers v. Chargers (what are the chances?)

The Steelers are a 3.5 point underdog at San Diego. Considering the Chargers' defense and Pittsburgh's struggles on offense that sounds about right. The Steelyard gives the Steelers a 45 percent chance of winning this game. Until there is evidence that Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough to play like his old self it's hard to imagine the Steelers' offense being successful. On the plus side, the Steelers have had two weeks to prepare for this game and Big Ben has a 9-1 career record against teams that passed on him in the 2004 draft.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The teams that passed on Roethlisberger

On Wednesday QB Ben Roethlisberger mentioned that he is extra-motivated when playing against any of the ten teams that passed on him in the 2004 draft, especially the Chargers (and presumably the New York Giants, too).

"I don't have anything against (Philip Rivers), but I like playing against San Diego," Roethlisberger said. "Anybody that was in the top 10 (of the draft), I kind of like to play against."

For what it's worth, Big Ben has lost just one start in his career against all ten of those teams combined. That loss came earlier this season at Jacksonville.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gone Bus Not Forgotten

Anyone catch a very slim and trim Jerome Bettis on the cover of today's USA WEEKEND? He's the cover boy for the annual "Most Caring Athlete" issue. Bettis and "The Bus Stops Here Foundation" is credited with making a big difference in the lives of inner-city children.